Believin’ in the ‘Beav’ |

Believin’ in the ‘Beav’

Matt Zalaznick
Beaver Creek yellow jackets Katharine Morgan, in black, and Matt Mathis, in yellow, use snow shovels to herd a porcupine away from the Spruce Saddle Lodge Saturday. The yellow jackets took the animal to some nearby trees.

The Beatles, with a little help from Buddy Holly and B.B. King, pretty much invented pop music. The Rolling Stones – who most would agree is a much uglier band – stole a few riffs from Muddy Waters and B.B. King and made rock ‘n’ roll sensual and nasty.

So does that mean one mountain is catchy and easy to dance to, and the other is down, dirty and creepy looking?

“I actually prefer Beaver Creek – there aren’t as many people and the runs are better,” said Boulder snowboarder Gordon Abrams, who rode the ‘Beav’ on opening day Saturday. “The runs are a little more challenging and a little steeper. At Vail they’re more wide open. Here, you have to be a little more technical.”

But surely swanky Beaver Creek couldn’t be the Stones of Vail Valley ski slopes?

“We came up to get one day of skiing in before we go out of town,” said Abrams’ snowboarding friend Catie Stephens. “I also like Beaver Creek Village and I wanted to check out the new Ritz-Carlton.”

That’s better, because I didn’t think the ‘Beav’ and the notoriously non-posh Keith Richards shared much in the way of reputation. Plus, the hotel-room smashing Stones wouldn’t seem to be the first choice for celebrity spokes-band at the ultra-luxurious Ritz-Carlton that opened in Bachelor Gulch Thursday.

But guarantees of a wild, rocking ride at the Beaver lured skier Jeremy Krieg, a former valley resident who now lives in Grand Junction.

“I’m a mogul skier, so I really like Grouse Mountain,” Krieg says.

But the Beatles were no softies. They could really jam, too. On the other hand, classy old Vail – though it doesn’t have heated streets or escalators – is surely not the bad boy of ski hills. So maybe both mountains are more like the Beatles. So maybe one hill is John Lennon and the other is Paul McCartney?

OK. Let’s see. The snow on opening day at Vail last week was knee-deep and untracked. The snow at Beaver Creek Saturday wasn’t quite as deep but it was soft and fluffy and a superb ride. And conditions at both hills are more like February than pre-Thanksgiving.

But that doesn’t seem to get us anywhere either. McCartney’s always been more mainstream and Lennon was a little more out there. But maybe we should just give up on the musical comparison?

“To have snow over your knees in November is just ridiculous,” said Ryan Riel, a snowrider from Boulder who’s already ridden a few days at Keystone this young ski season.

“Beaver Creek is steeper and there’s no people,” said Riel’s friend, Adam Calihman, a New Hampshire native who now lives in Boulder. “I wanted to do Vail last weekend but it scared me when I thought of all the people. I knew Beaver Creek would be more chill.”

He’s right. A record number of opening day skiers and snowboarders – approximately 11,000 – slammed the slopes of Vail last weekend. Numbers for the ‘Beav’ Saturday weren’t available, but judging from the cars parked up and down U.S. Highway 6 and Prater Road, the ‘Beav’ may not be the best kept secret in ski country any longer.

Calihman, however, used opening day to reflect on the political situation in Colorado after the elections earlier this month.

“It’s a shame that a Republican system is in place,” he said. “I think there should be more representation by more liberal people. Maybe it’s because of a lack of voting by people with different views.”

Gosh, that has nothing to do with skiing, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones! And as for equal time for Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, this is a skiing article, so we’re ignoring that much hallowed tenet of journalism.

As for the Fab Four, let’s leave it as this: There’s a little Lennon and little McCartney on both mountains. There are spiritual spots that really make you appreciate life and there’s catchy rides you can’t get out of your heads. There also are stairways some people can’t manage to make it up.

“We were walking up here and Colin fell down the stairs,” said Boston-native Dave Robinson of his friend, Colin Finch of New Zealand.

“Then I almost hit a tree,” added Finch, who gave Vail Mountain the edge.

“The Back Bowls at Vail are awesome,” he said.

But hey, Boston and New Zealand, they’re both home to famous accents. So which one works better with the ladies?

“Not Boston,” said the pair’s friend Keith Magson, another Massachusetts native who added that Finch rarely uses his vocal gifts to his advantage when out on the town. The three skiers also wanted to put their two cents in on the boards vs. planks debate. They made the Vail Daily ask them what they thought of snowboarders.

“I don’t like them,” Magson said.

“I don’t mind them,” Robinson said.

“They can do their thing,” Finch said.

Since we do like to provide equal time for planks and boards – but not politicians – we’ll reveal that the crack opening day ski-witness news team that roamed the slopes for the Vail Daily Saturday consisted of exactly one skier and one snowboarder.

And as it should be on opening day, there were a few skiers headed up the hill for the first times in their lives. Lake Solomon, from Atlanta, brought her husband Danny on a surprise trip to Beaver Creek to learn to ski.

“I didn’t know where we we’re going until we got here,” Danny said.

The couple was signed up for a three-day ski lesson.

“It’s the only sport I’ve never tried,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to try it all my life. We don’t get a lot of snow in the south. And all the snow in the Carolinas is fake.”

While the two were yet to make their first turns, they said the scenery had already astounded them.

“We’ve never seen this much snow. It’s beautiful,” Danny said.

But it was our stair-stumbling, accent-addled friend Finch from earlier in the story who best summed up sentiments of skiers and snowboarders who’ve ridden the snow on Vail and Beaver Creek this week.

“It’s only November,” he said, “you can’t complain.”

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